7 Smart Rules for a Healthy Detox

7 Smart Rules for a Healthy Detox

Experts weigh in on the healthiest rules to follow when detoxing.

By: Maressa Brown

No need to wait for the New Year to set a resolution. The beginning of a new season is always an opportunity to turn over a new leaf -- especially when it comes to rejuvenating healthy lifestyle habits. Trying a detox may be one way to do this, but there are certain rules experts advise us to follow if we go that route. Here, fitness gurus explain the best practices for detoxing healthfully. (Of course, as Shanna Israel, founder of Vertical Wellness, points out, “Make sure to let your doctor know you are interested in doing a cleanse if you have medical issues.”)

1. Tailor your detox. “Detoxing can differ depending on your situation,” notes Israel. “It’s not a ‘one kind for all’ situation, in my opinion.” The fix: expert supervision and guidance. It also helps to zero in on what you’re actually detoxing, notes health coach and ACE-certified personal trainer Brandon Mentore. “There are too many people out there doing non-specific detoxes and getting no results or negative outcomes,” he says. “Are you detoxing the liver, the kidneys, your GI tract, or from a food like sugar or caffeine? Find out what you exactly want to detox and determine what the best way to do that is.”

2. Stick to the plan, but don’t resist your body’s signals. “The main key for you is to follow the directions, and don’t cheat, otherwise you won’t get the full effect from the cleanse,” Israel says. “However, you also need to listen to your body and go with what it’s telling you.”

3. Don’t fall for cleanses full of empty calories. “There are companies making juice detox programs with high sugar content, which can defeat a detox,” says Israel. “Natural sugar is still sugar.” In other words, sticking to juice alone can lead to hunger and blood sugar spikes and crashes. The fix: You’ll do well with cleanses that rely more on veggies. “Keep your fruits on the lower end and increase the vegetables,” advises Mentore. Also, make sure you’re getting enough healthy protein and fat to keep blood sugar stable.

4. Don’t starve yourself. “Diets below 1,200 calories per day will cause your body to go into starvation mode, so you’ll experience major hunger pangs and then, immediately gain weight as soon as you start eating again,” explains vegan chef Atila Hildmann.


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5. See it as a lifestyle switch as opposed to quick fix. “It’s really important to look at food differently during and after a cleanse versus looking at it like a three-to-seven-day experience that will end,” notes Israel. “Knowing where [your food] comes from, what it can do to help you, finding appreciation that the food is available to you, and knowing you are being kind to yourself by adding these good items to your daily routine are all parts of a cleanse in my mind.”

6. Expect to be a bit uncomfortable. “What many people don’t understand before starting a detox is that your body is a machine, and therefore will take the first few days to eliminate the bad from the body and reset,” explains Israel. This means you might experience certain side effects, like light-headedness, headaches, or nausea. But it should be temporary. “Remember, these toxins have to leave the body,” notes Mentore. “These are signs that you are in fact detoxing and you need to weather the storm.”

7. Slow down. “It’s good to combine a detox with the realization that one should detox one's life as well at the same time,” explains Mona Morstein, ND, owner of Arizona Integrative Medical Solutions. “We should not, say, just drink veggie juice while working 12-hour days, and then jogging five miles, and then cleaning the house and doing the laundry and getting only five hours of sleep, and having arguments with people who are problematic in your life!” Instead, Morstein recommends meditating, praying, relaxing, laughing, sleeping, and practicing gratitude. “Attitude enhances any detox significantly!”

Have you detoxed before? What was your experience like?

Maressa Brown is a senior staff writer for The Stir . She loves writing about and reading up on health/fitness, relationships, and pop culture -- preferably on a beach somewhere.

Image ©iStock.com/SilviaJansen

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